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Harry Roberts

John Duddy & john witney

Kill Total:


Kill place:

Shepard's Bush, London

Kill date:

August 1966


DS Christopher Head

DC David Wombwell

PC Geoffery Fox

Date of Birth:


Marital Status:



12th August 1966,  At about 3:15 p.m. the car turned into Braybrook Street,  bordering Wormwood Scrubs Prison.

The officers spotted a battered blue Standard Vanguard estate van parked in the street with three men sitting inside it. Since escapes were sometimes attempted from the prison with the assistance of getaway vehicles driven by accomplices, the officers decided to question the occupants.

DS Head and DC Wombwell got out of their car and walked to the van, where they questioned Witney about the lack of a tax disc. He replied that he had not yet obtained his MOT certificate. DS Head asked for his driving licence and insurance certificate; noticing that the latter had expired at midday, he told DC Wombwell to write down Witney's details and walked around to the other side of the van. as he did so the front seat passenger, Harry Roberts, produced a Luger pistol and shot DC Wombwell through the left eye, killing him instantly.

DS Head ran back towards the police car, but Roberts ran after him and, shot him in the head.

John Duddy, the back seat passenger, also got out of the van, grabbing a .38 Colt from the bag next to him (which also contained a third gun). He ran over to the police car and shot PC Fox three times through the window as he tried to reverse towards him and Roberts, who also fired several shots. As he died, Fox's foot jerked down on the accelerator and the car lurched forward over the body of DS Head, who was already dying of his wounds.

Duddy and Roberts got back into the van and Witney reversed rapidly down a side street and drove away at speed. However, a passerby, had written down the registration number, PGT 726.

Witney, the van's owner, was arrested at his home six hours after the killings. Following a tip-off, the van was discovered the next day in a lock-up garage rented by Witney. It contained some spent .38 cartridges and equipment for stealing cars. Initially Witney pretended that he had sold the van to a man in a pub, but confessed on 14th August, admitting what had happened, and naming his accomplices.

Duddy had fled to Glasgow, but was arrested on 16th August.

Roberts hid out in Epping Forest to avoid the manhun, he avoided police capture for three months. A 1,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest. He was finally captured whilst sleeping in a barn at Blount's Farm near Bishop's Stortford after hiding in the adjacent Thorley Wood. Roberts was familiar with the area as he had been sent there as a child evacuee earlier in his life. At this time, there were lots of sightings of Roberts, who had actually been eating regularly in a cafe right next to Bishops Stortford police station.

12th December 1966 Roberts admitted firing the shots that killed Detective Sergeant Head, and Detective Constable David Wombwell.

He denied murdering PC Geoffrey Fox, as the shot had been fired by John Duddy. Duddy and Witney denied all the charges.

All three were found guilty of murder and possession of firearms and each was sentenced to 30 year in prison.

Duddy died in prison in 1981. John Witney, was released in 1991. He was beaten to death at his Bristol home eight years later.


2001, Roberts transferred to an open prison. This was thought to be a prelude to his release. However, he was returned to a closed jail within months after allegations that he was involved in drug dealing and bringing contraband into prison.


28th September 2007, Police raided the cell of Harry Roberts, as part of an inquiry ordered by the Home Office into how secret documents were leaked. Confidential letters and statements containing allegations against Roberts were sent to him in jail.


28th February 2009, It is reported that Harry Roberts, now aged 72, has completed the first part of his parole hearing, and could be released soon. Social reports are being prepared.




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